Theresa May facing stark Brexit choices

Posted By: September 24, 2018

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Monday,  September 24, 2018 

The Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney was fully entitled in his weekend RTE interview to highlight the dangers involved in allowing the complex negotiations between the EU and the UK to be linked to a “green versus orange” argument in Ireland.

It should now be clear that, despite the initial attempts at triumphalism by the DUP in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum, Brexit is a disaster of enormous proportions for both main Irish traditions.

Nationalists across the board have always been appalled by any moves to reintroduce Border controls while an increasing number of unionists are openly envisaging that the final break-up of the UK has been pushed firmly into focus.

Ordinary people from both traditions are deeply alarmed by the dire economic implications of the wider Brexit melt-down and have no confidence whatsoever in the ability of the British government to offer any viable solutions.

Theresa May’s room for maneuver has been severely curtailed by her dubious deal with Arlene Foster, and the idea that the DUP could maintain some form of veto over crucial backstop arrangements will inevitably destabilize the Tories as the discussions reach a crucial stage.

Mrs. May has allowed herself to be backed into a corner, and, having finally realized that the rest of the EU is decisively backing Dublin and rejecting her proposals, her attempts to stick to what appears to be an undeliverable Chequers strategy look completely forlorn.

While Mr. Coveney has made a strong positive contribution to the overall debate, there will be surprise over his assertion that growing references to the Border poll which was specifically included in the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago were `spreading fear’ among unionists.

Some unionists are in denial about the prospect of such a development but others, notably the former DUP leader Peter Robinson, have indicated that is a possibility which they hope does not arise but still needs to be carefully considered.

Although a border vote may still be some distance away, there is an overwhelming case for the UK electorate to be given a chance to offer its verdict on any final Brexit plan through either a second referendum or a general election.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday he would prefer the second option but acknowledged that his party’s position would be determined by delegates during their annual conference in the coming days.

Mrs. May faces a stark choice between clinging to power without authority or seeking a mandate for her next course of action. The Brexit crisis can be expected to end her career in the near future if she does not act decisively.